Scotland politics

Tony Blair: 'No-deal Brexit risks UK break-up'

Tony Blair
Image caption Tony Blair said he believed a no-deal Brexit was a "threat" to the United Kingdom

Tony Blair has said the prospect of a no-deal Brexit is a boost for those supporting Scottish independence.

The former prime minister said the chances of the UK leaving the EU without a deal have increased on the basis of latest briefings from No 10.

But Mr Blair said a deal with the EU was still possible.

In an interview with BBC Scotland, Mr Blair also acknowledged that he now finds it a "struggle" to support Labour.

He said: "A no-deal Brexit is a threat to the United Kingdom, there is no doubt about that.

"It is a threat to Northern Ireland, it is a threat to Scotland remaining in the UK,

"Do I hope either of these things happen? No, of course not and I will argue strongly against it."

Mr Blair added that a no-deal Brexit would give supporters of independence an "additional argument that they did not have before".

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson spoke on the phone on Tuesday morning and this has led to reports that the chances of a Brexit deal have decreased

Reflecting on reports that a Brexit deal is "essentially impossible" after a call between the prime minister Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel, Mr Blair said there needed to be better conduct in negotiations.

He added: "On the basis of the way the government has behaved today I think a no deal is more likely.

"I think there is a genuine desire on the part of Europe to reach a deal if at all possible, no-one sensible wants a no deal.

"Let's see what happens over the next days but if the government is seriously going to assemble the semblance of a deal it has got to stop doing these briefings and stop conducting its business through the media."

Asked about his personal support for the party he led for 13 years, Mr Blair added that "It's a struggle for me with Labour and I am quite open about that."

'Elephant trap'

Speaking at another event in Edinburgh, a lunch organised by the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists' Association, Mr Blair warned about a UK government briefing that the Tories would contest an election on a platform supporting a no-deal Brexit.

He said: "The strategy is laid out very clearly, and it's a vast elephant trap of great width and depth, with neon signs flashing around it saying: 'Elephant trap - elephants of limited awareness please fall in'.

"They should avoid that."

Mr Blair added: "The right thing is indeed to go back to the people but I beg you, please, not by way of a general election.

"To mix a general election up with the specific issue of Brexit is wrong in principle and it's wrong in the politics."

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